Dietary Fiber: How Much is Too Much?
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It is no surprise that eating a good amount of fiber is necessary to maintain a healthy diet. You’ve heard for years that fiber is good for you, and that you likely aren’t getting enough of it, but what is a “good amount” of fiber? And more importantly, is it possible that you can go too far and have too much fiber in your diet? If you have these, and other, questions about dietary fiber, look no further. We are here to help discuss the benefits of fiber, as well as the possible dangers associated with having too much in your diet.
Benefits of Fiber
To begin with, what is fiber and why is it so good for you? Dietary fiber helps you to maintain a healthy digestive system by helping to relieve constipation. This is the main benefit of dietary fiber, and is likely what comes to mind when you think about this. However, there are actually lesser known benefits of dietary fiber. Having a good source of fiber in your diet can help with maintaining weight and decreasing health issues such as heart disease and lowering your risk for diabetes. If you suffer from high cholesterol, increasing your fiber can help to bring down your bad cholesterol levels.
Having a fiber rich diet can also help in other heart health areas and may help reduce inflammation and decrease blood pressure. And, as mentioned earlier, fiber will help with your bowel movements, helping to keep them regular and potentially decreasing symptoms of IBS in people who suffer from this syndrome.
Good Sources of Fiber
Now that you know how good fiber is for you, what are the best foods to consume? And, what is a good amount to consume each day? First off, fiber is most commonly found in fruits and vegetables. You will also find good sources of fiber in other food groups like legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Thankfully, it is easy to get plenty of fiber into your diet. With an abundance of options that are high in fiber, you can surely introduce these foods into your diet. In fact, you more than likely already eat plenty of these foods and are getting at least some of the fiber that your body needs. However- how much is recommended?
There are recommendations in place for how much fiber men and women need in their diet per day. According to data from Everyday Health, men need to consume 30-38 grams of fiber per day. Women between the age of 18 and 51 should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, and women over the age of 51 should consume 21 grams per day.
Signs of Too Much Fiber
It is true- there can be too much of a good thing. This is true in the case of dietary fiber. While your body needs fiber, it can have too much. Preferably you should watch your diet to begin with in order to avoid overloading your body. However, should you have a diet too high in fiber, there are symptoms that you should look out for. In particular, you may experience stomach cramping, constipation, gas, and bloating if you have too much fiber in your diet. If you are consuming over 40 grams of fiber per day (and less for women), you are likely to experience these symptoms.
Being healthy is always a delicate balance. Dietary fiber is great for your body, and in fact is essential for your health. However, do not go overboard with your diet. While many people do suffer from a lack of fiber in their diet, be careful to not overcompensate and get too much instead.